Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #429

The Week That Was: October 31, 2020
Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, The Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week: “Quantum theory yields much, but it hardly brings us close to the Old One’s secrets. I, in any case, am convinced He does not play dice with the universe.” Albert Einstein, to Max Born (1926)

Number of the Week: 2%

Knew What? The above quote illustrates the frustration Einstein had with Quantum Physics because one cannot precisely predict what will happens in nature on the atomic and sub-atomic level. For example, one cannot precisely predict what will happen to a photon when an energized molecule emits it. The photon may go in any direction.

We have built vast industries in electronics and other fields using principles developed in Quantum Physics. These industries include transistors (including computer chips); mobile phones, laptops, tablets etc.; nuclear power; health, magnetic-resonance imaging, or MRI; lasers for DVDs, scanners at store checkouts, industrial cutting of metal, eye surgery, etc.

However, the multi-billion dollar “climate science” industry largely ignores Quantum Physics and the field of physics that incorporates it – Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics (AMO) – even though “climate science” depends on computer modeling which requires computers requiring transistors, the understanding of which is based on Quantum Physics.

Herein is the “fatal flaw” of the climate science industry led by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its followers such as the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). They ignore the decades of extensive research into greenhouse effect done by physicists and others who are not part of that establishment.

Based on experiments starting in 1859, Irish physicist John Tyndall explained that certain gases absorb infrared radiation, of longer wavelengths than visible light, going from the earth to space. These gases keep the nighttime temperatures of earth far higher than they would be otherwise, thus keeping the land masses from extreme freezing temperatures at night. Without this effect, it is doubtful complex vegetative and animal life would exist on land. His calculations have been refined, but Tyndall recognized that water vapor was the most important greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is secondary.

By the end of WWII, the Air Force was interested in how water vapor absorbs and emits electromagnetic radiation. It financed major research efforts through the Air Force Geophysical Laboratories. One report by the Ford Aerospace and Communications Corporation, Aeronutronic [as spelled in the document] Division (1982) on the “Continuum Absorption by H2O.” stated:

“Water vapor is responsible for much of the lower-atmosphere absorption in the infrared, millimeter-wave, and microwave windows. Wide variations in the atmospheric temperature and humidity lead to wide variations in the attenuation in these windows. Although the positions, intensities, and widths of most of the significant H2O[ absorption lines are known, the absorption in the windows cannot be calculated accurately from theoretical considerations alone. Many instruments and complicated systems such as thermal imaging devices, remote sensing systems, seekers, trackers, and laser communications systems are designed to operate in one or more of the atmospheric windows. Thus, a good understanding of the nature of the continuum absorption and the ability to predict it are essential.”

A 1946 report from the Columbia Radiation Laboratory, Columbia University, New York, was on “Water Vapor Absorption of Electromagnetic Radiation in the Centimeter Wave-Length Range.” Columbia University is now a center for carbon dioxide-caused warming alarmists who ignore previous research.

Those who claim significance by declaring “Exxon Knew” or “Ford Knew” accomplish little. What did they know? Water vapor is an important greenhouse gas that effects the transmission of infrared energy to space. They can also declare: “The Irish Knew.” See links under Communicating Better to the Public – Use Yellow (Green) Journalism?, Communicating Better to the Public – Make things up, https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a112264.pdf, and https://journals.aps.org/pr/abstract/10.1103/PhysRev.70.300


What Do We Know? We know that the greenhouse effect occurs in the atmosphere and cannot be described by a few simple equations. As discussed below, we know rather precisely the CO2 absorption spectrum and how much infrared energy is blocked by CO2 at all CO2 concentrations and altitudes. However, contrary to what many “climate scientists” claim, the entire science of climate is not that well developed. Consequently, we cannot easily model it and any long-term predictions that do not include measurements of the influence of changing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are likely wrong.

In the late 1960s, the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories (AFCRL) started funding a long-term data base project to acquire detailed knowledge of the infrared properties of the atmosphere known as HITRAN. HITRAN is an acronym for high-resolution transmission molecular absorption database. HITRAN is a compilation of spectroscopic parameters that a variety of computer codes use to predict and simulate the transmission and emission of light in the atmosphere.

The HITRAN compilation, and its associated database HITEMP (high-temperature spectroscopic absorption parameters), are developed and maintained at the Atomic and Molecular Physics Division, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics under the continued direction of Dr Laurence S. Rothman.”

“Before long, the objectives of HITRAN greatly expanded. The spectral range of applicability soon covered the microwave through visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum. In terms of physics, that meant transitions of pure rotation as well as ro-vibration (and even some transitions between different electronic states). The applications also went beyond the simple atmosphere, and many molecules were added that represented trace species in the atmosphere and pollutants in the troposphere. More recently, HITRAN has served the planetary atmospheres community. As a result, the transitions in the database have incorporated more basic parameters, especially those that allow simulation of collisional broadening of spectral lines.”

“The current and planned remote-sensing satellite missions had also put new demands on HITRAN for precision and accuracy. The line positions and intensities are being acquired at unprecedented accuracy.”

This is probably the finest database in the world on what is happening in the atmosphere, including changes in the greenhouse effect in existence. It is ignored by the IPCC, the USGCRP, and similar organizations supposedly producing climate science and how changes in the greenhouse effect are changing climate.

As discussed in previous TWTWs, AMO physicists William van Wijngaarden and William Happer (W&H) have been trying to get a paper published using this mixture of calculated and experimental data. Western science journals have been treating them as if they are 1920s authors of a shocking novel that will scandalize the puritanical politicians in Boston, leading to the term banned in Boston. Writing in CFACT, David Wojick presents the preprint.

John Kerry claimed that climate science is simple physics. The W&H paper on estimating the change in the greenhouse effect occurring in the atmosphere with additions of carbon dioxide has 15 figures, 5 tables and 92 equations, many of them requiring a command of integral calculus. If Kerry’s version of climate science is simple physics, it does not include the greenhouse effect.

Parts of the paper will be presented in this TWTW and discussed further in the next TWTW. The Abstract states:

“The atmospheric temperatures and concentrations of Earth’s five most important, greenhouse gases, H2O, CO2, O3, N2O and CH4 control the cloud-free, thermal radiative flux from the Earth to outer space. Over 1/3 million lines having strengths [wavelengths] as low as 10−27 cm [10 to the minus 27th power] of the HITRAN database were used to evaluate the dependence of the forcing on the gas concentrations. For a hypothetical, optically thin atmosphere, where there is negligible saturation of the absorption bands, or interference of one type of greenhouse gas with others, the per-molecule forcings are of order 10−22 W [10 to the minus 22nd power W] for H2O, CO2, O3, N2O and CH4. For current atmospheric concentrations, the per-molecule forcings of the abundant greenhouse gases H2O and CO2 are suppressed by four orders of magnitude. The forcings of the less abundant greenhouse gases, O3, N2O and CH4, are also suppressed, but much less so. For current concentrations, the per-molecule forcings are two to three orders of magnitude greater for O3, N2O and CH4, than those of H2O or CO2. Doubling the current concentrations of CO2, N2O or CH4 increases the forcings by a few percent. These forcing results are close to previously published values even though the calculations did not utilize either a CO2 or H2O continuum. The change in surface temperature due to CO2 doubling is estimated taking into account radiative-convective equilibrium of the atmosphere as well as water feedback for the cases of fixed absolute and relative humidities as well as the effect of using a pseudoadiabatic lapse rate to model the troposphere temperature. Satellite spectral measurements at various latitudes are in excellent quantitative agreement with modelled intensities.”

The W & H paper covers the five most important greenhouse gases, examined from the standpoint of a cloud free atmosphere. Clouds reflect some of the incoming radiation from the sun, but, more importantly for the greenhouse effect, also reduce the outgoing radiation from earth to space. Thus, ideally from the greenhouse perspective, the nighttime warming effect of clouds is eliminated, and the greenhouse effect is considered alone.

In the current atmosphere, with CO2 at about 400 parts per million (400 ppm), the influence of adding a molecule of CO2 is “suppressed by four orders of magnitude”, or about one-ten thousands that of the first molecules. Using the language common to those who study this field, both CO2 and water vapor are saturated; increasing these gases will not have a significant impact on the climate of the earth. Such an effect can be described by a logarithmic function, not its inverse, an exponential function which has been used in IPCC reports. Humanity’s addition of CO2 to the atmosphere is not causing a “climate crisis.”

For a doubling of CO2, W & H have three estimates of the impact of a doubling of CO2. For a fixed absolute humidity and constant lapse rate (drop in temperature with increase in altitude below the tropopause (where water freezes out of the atmosphere)) the estimate is 1.4 K (ͦ C or 2.5 ͦ F). For a fixed relative humidity and constant lapse rate the estimate is 2.3 K (ͦ C or 4.1  ͦ F, and for a fixed relative humidity and a pseudoadiabatic lapse rate (condensed water is immediately removed) the estimate is 2.2 ͦK (ͦ C or 4  ͦ F). All these estimates are below the mean estimate used in IPCC reports of 3.0 ͦ C

One conclusion of note, to be discussed further next week, is:

“The most striking fact about radiation transfer in Earth’s atmosphere is summarized by Figs. 4 and 5. [Not shown here] Doubling the current concentrations of the greenhouse gases CO2, N2O and CH4 increases the forcings by a few percent for cloud-free parts of the atmosphere. Table 3

shows the forcings at both the top of the atmosphere and at the tropopause are comparable

to those found by other groups.”

As stated by Lindzen previously, doubling of CO2 will have little effect on the earth’s climate, a few percent of the total energy flowing onto the earth and out to space. Again, the exponential functions used by the IPCC are pure fantasy. Further, as will be discussed next week, cutting existing CO2 in half will have little effect and the residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is not particularly meaningful. Carbon dioxide capture is of little or no value. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Accuracy of the New IPCC Models: Dr. Patrick Frank is a member of the scientific staff of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource/SLAC at Stanford University. According to its website, the National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) “is a multi-program national laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, biochemistry, material science, particle physics and accelerator research.” [Boldface added]

Frank has written extensively on the accuracy, or inaccuracy, of global climate models used by the IPCC. In WUWT he reviews the latest array of models that are available to the public. In his conclusions, Frank states:

“First, CMIP6 models, like their antecedents, project air temperatures as a linear extrapolation of forcing.

Second, CMIP6 climate models, like their antecedents, make large scale simulation errors in cloud fraction.

Third, CMIP6 climate models, like their antecedents, produce LWCF errors enormously larger than the tiny annual increase in tropospheric forcing produced by GHG emissions.

Fourth, CMIP6 climate models, like their antecedents, produce uncertainties so large and so immediate that air temperatures cannot be reliably projected even one year out.

Fifth, CMIP6 climate models, like their antecedents, will have to show about 1000-fold improved resolution to reliably detect a CO2 signal.

Sixth, CMIP6 climate models, like their antecedents, produce physically meaningless air temperature projections.

Seventh, CMIP6 climate models, like their antecedents, have no predictive value.”

The first statement by Frank about the models undermines the credibility of the models, even before testing them against physical evidence. Decades of experimentation and now decades of atmospheric observations show that change in atmospheric temperatures from an increase in CO2 cannot be accurately described by a linear function but requires a logarithmic function. Thus, using these models for projections or extrapolations is meaningless and the results should be ignored. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and https://www-ssrl.slac.stanford.edu/content/about-ssrl/about-stanford-synchrotron-radiation-lightsource


Roger Revelle: Also writing in WUWT, Andy May reviews the sorry episode of political influence over science. Staffers for then Vice President Al Gore tried to discredit a 1992 paper written by Roger Revelle (who later died), Chauncey Starr, and then SEPP President S. Fred Singer. The Gore staffer claimed that Revelle, a former teacher of Al Gore, was physically incapable of being a co-author. Starr had notes of earlier drafts with Revelle’s handwritten changes. Later, Singer successfully sued, but collected nothing. Andy May gives us an example of how far “saviors of the earth” are willing to go to stop science that questions their cause. See link under Changing the Orthodoxy.


A Reporter’s Question: As described in her essay “Science and politics,” a reporter asked Judith Curry a question:

“I’m reaching out to scientists this week about the election. How do you feel about it? Which of the candidates has the best plan, for you, in science and technology?”

Curry’s response began:

“I am not happy with either the Democratic or Republican plans for science in the U.S. Both sides seem to want to use and misuse science as a club to further their political agendas. The Republicans seem to prefer to ignore science, while the Democrats cherry pick science to further their political agendas.”

No doubt many scientifically minded readers will embrace her entire response. TWTW would make two small exceptions regarding the Republican plans. One exception is the appointment of David Legates to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction at NOAA. As discussed in the September 19 TWTW, Legates has produced over 100 papers on climate, precipitation and similar topics and has openly questioned the rigor of the reports by the USGCRP, a follower of the IPCC. With these organizations, assertions have become more important than evidence supporting them.

The second exception is the recent appointment of Ryan Maue as chief scientist at NOAA. He is an outstanding weather modeler in the finest sense, evidence based. With a few notable exceptions, such as the National Hurricane Center, NOAA’s modeling is poor. Its long-term climate forecasts including sea level rise, etc., are absurd. These include forecasts of exponential increases in sea levels. The recent shift to naming meaningless, minor storms in the middle of the Atlantic is another example of how far NOAA has drifted from its major mission, as stated on its website:

“To understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.”

The website also states:

“NOAA is an agency that enriches life through science. Our reach goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor as we work to keep the public informed of the changing environment around them.

“From daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings, and climate monitoring to fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce, NOAA’s products and services support economic vitality and affect more than one-third of America’s gross domestic product. NOAA’s dedicated scientists use cutting-edge research and high-tech instrumentation to provide citizens, planners, emergency managers and other decision makers with reliable information they need when they need it.”

Yet, sections of NOAA ignore the scientific method which includes evaluating theories, hypotheses, and assumptions against all the scientific evidence, not just the evidence that supports political desires.

Maue recognizes the importance of evidence. One example is his use of the accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) which expresses the energy of tropical cyclones during their lifetime. In general, storms in the Pacific are more important than those in the Atlantic. According to these calculations, the total frequency and energy is not increasing.

See links under Seeking a Common Ground, https://www.noaa.gov/about-our-agency#:~:text=Our%20mission,and%20marine%20ecosystems%20and%20resources.&text=Dedicated%20to%20the%20understanding%20and%20stewardship%20of%20the%20environment.

and http://climatlas.com/tropical/


NOAA’s Top Scientist? Almost amusingly, Ryan Maue is replacing a career bureaucrat at NOAA, who was assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research and acting chief scientist. His professional background was the practice of marine resource law. Immediately, some news organizations identified him as NOAA’s top scientist. That seems to be the Washington Press Corps’ understanding of science. See links under Change in US Administrations and https://www.aspenideas.org/speakers/craig-mclean


Number of the Week: 2%. It is worth repeating, according to reports by W & H above, and others, a doubling of today’s CO2, and associated increase in water vapor, will not reduce infrared energy flowing from the surface to space by more than 2 %, and may be far less. Thus, there is no run-away greenhouse, no tipping point, no climate crisis, etc.


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